SGA on dorm damage, housing
Multiple motions concerned with addressing dorm damage on campus, as well as motions regarding the housing selection process garnered widespread discussion among Student Government Association (SGA) representatives at the meeting on February 27.
East Quad Dorm President Morgan Lingar ’13 introduced three different motions relating to dorm damage policies on the Hill. Representatives passed each of these motions, which will now be reviewed by the appropriate College administrative group. The first motion requested that “policy specific to dorm damage, regarding methods of reporting, fines and punishments, be compiled and posted in the Echo, as an Official Announcement, and in an easily accessible place on the Colby website.” “Basically during all my conversations with people on campus and the administration, we found there is a lack of knowledge about how to report people,” Lingar said.
The second motion Lingar proposed recommended two categories of sanctions to the College Affairs Committee (CAC) . Lingar said that after talking to College officials, mainly Assistant Director of Campus Life Katrina Danby, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Campus Life Jed Wartman, “we felt it was really important to divide into two categories based on whether people had self-reported or not.” Thus, students in “category B”—those who “do not turn themselves into a source such as a community advisor, a dean or a member of Campus Life within five days of committing intentional physical damage to a dorm”—must pay the damage fine and apologize to residents of the residence hall in which they committed the damage. Offenders would make this apology at the residence hall’s next hall meeting and/or apologize via the Civil Discourse. Not only will these students be required to pay a fine and make a public apology, but they will also be compelled to complete hours of service to the College community. Those committing subsequent offenses in this category will also have to appear before the conduct board, also known as the judicial board, and receive a recommendation to see a counselor about their behavior.
All other offenders, however, are considered members of “category A,” and face less severe consequences than those who did not turn themselves to report their damage. They must pay the damage fine and apologize to residents of the residence hall in which the damage was committed at the next hall meeting and/or apologize via the Civil Discourse.
Other schools have also created policies that aim to cut down on dorm damage, Lingar said. “Hamilton did have a suspension policy, it’s pretty normal to have some form of public apology….” Lingar said that Colby’s idea behind the sanction of service aims to add an additional, non-monetary punishment for students who did not turn themselves in, while still making the system “more equal for those of different socioeconomic backgrounds.”
Some representatives expressed concern about the efficacy of the proposed motion. “I think dorm damage is part of the cultural aspect at Colby,” Heights Dorm President Harry Davis ’11 said. “It just seems that [the motion] would be highly ineffectual.”
Grossman Dorm President Zhanar Seitmagzimova ’13 said that although the motion doesn’t address the cultural aspect of dorm damage, it is “a good start…it really reflects the opinion of a lot of people on this campus.” Mary Low Dorm President Michael Stephens ’13 echoed Seitmagzimova’s views. “People have been trying for a long time [to address the cultural problem]…I think this is better than nothing.”
Lingar’s third and final motion on dorm damage requested “that the Office of Campus Life include discussions and education about dorm damage in first-year orientation.” Lingar said that there are “already...a lot of discussions about drinking and college life in general,” and COOT2 leaders could thus work to address the issue during their time with first-years. “[Talking about it] doesn’t have to glorify dorm damage, it’s more about respecting your dormmates and being a good person,” Lingar said.
After representatives approved all of the motions that related to dorm damage, Off-Campus Representative Stephanie Scarpato ’11 raised the last motion of the evening. Her motion recommended “that the President’s Council approve the 2010-2011 Housing Facilities Advisory Committee (HFAC) proposal.” SGA representatives chose to divide the three-part proposal into three separate motions, all of which passed. These motions. which will go into effect for this year’s room draw, supported the “introduction of an entirely gender-neutral housing system with the expansion of [the College’s] current gender-neutral housing system,” the “elimination of gender designations of all rooms on campus” and “[the enforcement of] specialty housing (chemical-free, quiet and dialogue) as a binding agreement.”
The motions prompted extensive discussion among SGA representatives. Scarpato explained that making rooms gender-neutral would “eliminate the gender-designations of all rooms, so [room draw] would be a true lottery.” Foss Dorm President Dan Echt ’11 expressed his constituents’ concern that as a result of a lack of gender quotas, “a whole bunch of people could live in the same general area and close out other social scenes,” ultimately creating their own block housing. Scarpato responded to this concern and said that “a lot of people would see [block housing] as a good thing, not a bad thing.”
Coburn Dorm President John Swinehart ’12 raised the issue of how the lack of gender quotas would affect the amount of bathrooms on the floor, should a floor consist of mainly members of one gender. However, Scarpato said that “we think that in the long run it would even out and not cause too much of a problem,” as a whole floor would not be entirely male or female.
Representatives were also conflicted about the concept of enforced specialty housing. Although they did ultimately approve the motion, it passed with a close 14-13 vote. Several representatives argued that students signing up for specialty housing without knowing which dorms are available end up being bound to those limited dorm options. “[People who live in specialty housing] should have as much freedom or as much choice and not be held to some value system,” Davis said.
Representatives also passed a motion raised by Davis, who proposed that “President William Adams seek to join ‘Project Pericles,’ a non-profit organization composed of liberal arts colleges and universities geared toward ideas that social responsibility and participatory citizenship are essential parts of an undergraduate curriculum, in the classroom, on campus and in the community.”
Additionally, representatives passed motions to approve two new student clubs: Male Athletes Against Violence (MAAV)—which works to address issues of violence and sexual assault against women on campus—and the Voice of Colby club, aimed at educating Asian and American students on the Hill about relations between Asian countries and the United States. Representatives also passed a motion to revitalize the Four Winds club, an alliance for Native American and fellow students on the Hill.